While Passover is not an official University holiday, Jewish students around campus celebrated the first night of the holy festival with their own seders yesterday.
With the help of Harvard Hillel and the Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Services, students hosted 17 different seders—the ritual dinner occurring on the first and second nights of Passover—involving almost 300 undergraduates, according to Director of Student Activities at Hillel Gabriella Soble.
Passover, which started last night, is an eight-day festival commemorating the Exodus of Israelite slaves from ancient Egypt typically celebrated through a ritual meal.
Serving communities ranging from the Quad to the Harvard University Band, and attracting both Jews and non-Jews alike, the student-initiated seders gave undergraduates the chance to celebrate Passover in their own way.
Cabot House resident Seth A. Pearce ’12, who is hosting a seder for the second time in the Quad, said he prefers celebrating Passover with his friends and sharing his family’s traditions.
“It’s an beautiful, open, and inclusive event,” he said.
Aryeh Gold-Parker ’12 said he was excited to be hosting the annual seder for the Harvard University Band in the Lowell House bell tower this year.
“It’s a really fun tradition and it’s something that I would miss here if we didn’t have it,” Gold-Parker said. “I’m glad that even though I can’t be home with my family, I am able to celebrate it here with my close friends.”
Lillian R. Margolin ’11, another seder host, organized an interfaith dinner for her friends that included Jews, Christians, and Muslims on the guest list.
Students said the support of Hillel made organizing the events easier. Hillel offers students everything they need to host a seder—including food, grape juice and wine, a seder plate, and the Haggadot, the script that gives the order for the ritual to be read during the dinner—through a registration process.
“They even give you the actual plates, cups, utensils, and salt for the salt water,” said Pearce.
“Organizing is all you have to do ... Hillel provides the food and the prayer books,” said Gold-Parker.
Hillel will also be offering a wide array of programming for Passover this week, including their own first- and second-night seders, with both traditional and progressive options.
They will also host “Kosher for Passover” study breaks in Adams, Mather, and Thayer, a special “Freedom Shabbat” dinner on Friday presenting narratives of slavery, and a matzoh pizza social on Saturday night featuring a twist on traditional Passover food.